Special ways to celebrate Spring
Mar 17, 2012 / 5:00 am
Everyone in the Okanagan has itchy feet, with all this warmer weather and things sprouting up green all over. It’s hard to believe that spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20th. We are fortunate to live in Paradise, aren’t we?
Of course one of the most well-known harbingers of spring is St. Patrick’s Day. This traditional feast day now on the religious calendar of Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans alike is named for a bishop in the 5th century who was first introduced to Ireland as a captive but returned years later after his religious studies. Irish folklore says it was Patrick that first used the shamrock to explain the holy Trinity to the Irish.
As an official feast day, St. Patrick’s Day is a day when the restrictions of Lent on food and alcohol can be lifted. This may be part of why it can sometimes be seen as a rather raucous party, but there are other fine Irish traditions in food and drink besides the beer and the whisky. Nowadays, you can find recipes like Guinness Beef Stew and Chocolate Stout Brownies to complement your pint, if you like. You shall be celebrating with people all over – did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated Saint’s Days around the world? Another piece of trivia for you: “the wearing of the green”, wearing a shamrock or wearing green clothing, is an evolution from the original blue that was associated with Saint Patrick.
Many countries have traditions associated with spring, often involving spring cleaning and repairs so as to start the new season fresh and ready. In some cultures, the spring equinox is still regarded as it was in Roman times, as the start of a new year. I love this entry from Waverly Fitzgerald, who hosts a fantastic website called School of the Seasons:
I like to celebrate the festival of Nawruz, Persian New Year, which falls on the spring equinox. We fix a special dinner of seven food dishes that begin with ‘S.’ Since we don't know the Arabic names for food, we use English words and eat salad, salami, soup, squash, etc. The table is decorated with a mirror, a bowl of water with one freshly-picked green leaf floating in it, a candleabra containing a candle for every child in the house, a copy of the Koran (or other sacred text), rose water, sweets, fruit, a fish, yogurt and colored eggs.
A much newer but very fine spring tradition exists in France, where they have the “Jour du Macaron”. Seven years ago, pastry chefs in the Relais Desserts association were led by Pierre Hermé to promote the first day of spring with their lovely “macarons” – a cookie made of nut meringue biscuits that hold a delectable cream filling. They come in a rainbow of flavours and colours. (as befits a spring tradition). The initiative was created to support charitable causes, and in Kelowna we are fortunate to have an expat who was willing to take up the torch. On March 20, you can visit Sandrine French Pastry & Chocolate or one of their supporting locations and when you buy their macarons they will be donating proceeds to the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation. (click on the link to see all locations selling macarons).
However you decide to ring in the new season, I wish you sunshine and rainbows shared with friends. Here’s to a fresh start!
Read more Happy Gourmand articles
- A foodie kind of day in the Okanagan May 11
- A day in the life of an Okanagan foodie May 4
- Slow and sweet Apr 27
- Do you have to eat dirt on Earth Day? Apr 20
- Recipes across the miles Apr 13
- Haggis, neeps & tatties Apr 6
- Foolish food Mar 30
- Good food, good friends Mar 23
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